In his poem, Poe uses Lenore as a symbol of an idealized love and perfect beauty. As Poe writes, “For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore” (11). For the narrator, Lenore is unique and unmatched in beauty. The reader, however, is never given a true description of Lenore and her appearance, as well as her untimely death, remains obscure throughout the poem. This allows the reader to create their own image of Lenore, highlighting her perfect beauty. As the narrator comes to idolize the love of Lenore, the effects of her death become obvious, weakening his psyche until it can no longer remain whole.
The raven is used by the author to represent the irrationality of the narrator’s mind. Despite the meaningless response of the raven, the man’s inability to cope with his loss transforms it into an ominous omen. The man even admits this as he says: “Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore — Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore Of “Never-nevermore. (62-65) The narrator declares that the raven’s response is simply one he acquired while living with an unfortunate master. However, his irrational mind cannot accept this, and instead views the raven as a supernatural messenger. The symbolism behind the raven is made even more prominent when it is connected with the bust of Pallas. The narrator’s bust of Pallas, another name for the Greek goddess Athena, symbolizes wisdom. This wisdom refers not only to the credence the narrator places on the raven’s words, but also to the integrity of his mind. Poe writes:
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting on the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming, And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted-nevermore! (103-108) The belief in the words of the raven drives the narrator to the brink of sanity. Poe illustrates this by concluding the poem with the irrationality of the raven standing overtop the wisdom of the man’s mind.
The setting is also symbolic in the poem. Poe places the interactions between the narrator and the raven at midnight on a December evening to represent the end of a time period. This is exemplified when Poe writes. “Ah, distinctly remember it was in the bleak December; / And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor” (7-8). The setting is significant because it creates an atmosphere of finality around the events. The placement of December is often used to show the death not only of the year, but also of life in the coming winter.
Unfortunately, the narrator cannot see beyond the death around him, and lives without the hope of rebirth in the spring. The storm outside of the narrator’s chamber symbolizes the isolation he feels after the loss of Lenore. As Poe writes, “‘Prophet! ‘ said I, “thing of evil! —prophet still, if bird or devil! — / Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore” (85-86). Without a friend, the narrator is forced to mourn alone in his home. The man sees himself as if he were abandoned on an island, isolated from the world around him by the tempest that rages inside his heart.
Unfortunately, the only visitor able to pass through the storm is the raven, who provides no help for the narrator’s grieving heart. VI. SPEAKER “The Raven” is written in first-person with the narrator being unnamed, but involved in the poem. The use of first-person provides a more personal insight into the mind of the narrator. The poem is written in limited-omniscient to highlight the limited scope of the narrator’s deteriorating psyche. VII. STRUCTURE The internal story of “The Raven” is narrated in chronological order following the regular sequence of time over the span of a night.
The poem begins as the man sits in his room partly reading and partly napping, and ends as the man is still haunted by the presence of the raven. Poe uses several motifs including loneliness, highlighting the narrator’s inability to cope with the death of Lenore, and the night, emphasizing the darkness and grief that consumes the man. The poem contains 108 lines divided into eighteen stanzas. Each stanza is comprised of six lines displaying an external rhyme scheme of ABCBBB and an internal rhyme scheme of AABCCCBBB.
Each poetic verse has sixteen syllables divided into eight stressed, unstressed syllable patterns, which categorizes the poem as trochaic octameter. When typed, the poem spans three pages. VIII. IMAGERY Edgar Allan Poe’s writing in “The Raven” overflows with its uses of figurative language in order to draw the reader into the mental state of the man. Poe’s use of descriptive images, coupled with his melancholic tone, creates an aura of obscurity and mystery around both the life of the man and the presence of the raven.
By utilizing a range of imagery, he manages to submerge the reader in the story of the man and watch as his psyche is slowly shattered. Poe uses metaphors throughout the story. When describing the raven’s gaze, he writes “To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core” (74). The poet utilizes the image of fiery eyes to emphasize the fierce stare the narrator believes the raven has given him. Antithesis is also used throughout the poem to highlight the balance between life and death.
For example when describing his lost love Lenore, the man says “For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore_/ Nameless here for evermore” (11-12). By describing Lenore as both named by angels and nameless on earth, the poet emphasizes the separation the narrator feels for Lenore now that she has passed. Onomatopoeia is also used when Poe writes, “While | nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, / As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door” (3-4). The inclusion of sounds adds a sense of realism to the poem and draws the reader into the world that Poe creates.
The poet utilizes an abundance of similes, especially when describing the actions of the raven. After first hearing the raven’s singular response, Poe writes “But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only / That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour” (55-56). By comparing the word of the raven to an outpouring of the soul, Poe imparts on the reader the full effect the raven’s word has on the man. Poe also uses reification throughout the poem. When the man hears the tapping on his door, he attempts to determine what caused the noise only to find “the silence was unbroken” (27).
The poet gives the abstract idea of silence the concrete attributes of being unbroken to create a more tangible image in the reader’s mind. Apostrophe is used to great effect by Poe, especially in the man’s relation to Lenore. As the man opens the door, Poe writes, “And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, ‘Lenore? ‘ / This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, ‘Lenore! ” (28-29). The narrator calls out to his lost love to highlight his inability to separate the real from the imagined. The use of alliteration is also observed throughout the poem.
When the narrator is glancing out the window, Poe writes “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, / Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before” (25-26). The repetition of the “d” sounds throughout the lines further enhances the musical quality of the poem. Poe also uses personification throughout the poem. When describing the room of the man, he writes, “And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain” (13). By giving the sound of the curtains an emotional characteristic, Poe adds a more personal element to the poem.
The poet uses many oxymoronic statements to emphasize the wounded psyche of the man. When the man yells at the raven, he says, “Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted” (87). By combining the opposing ideas of charm and a desolate landscape, Poe forms a new idea to describe the mindset of the narrator. When the man becomes angered at the raven’s unchanging responses, he says, “Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door” (101). This form of metonymy utilizes the instrument for the agent, as the narrator refers to the raven’s beak when in fact it is the raven’s words that pierce his heart.